Inside Dick Page's Makeup Kit
Plus *all* the makeup secrets.
We’re a pretty curious bunch. We want to know which blush color a certain model was wearing when she walked down the runway at that show just as much as we want to know what you hoard in on your bookshelves—and when it comes to beauty realm, what you collect in your medicine cabinet. We (and most of you, too we’re guessing) would be lying if we said we didn’t sometimes sneak a peek behind the bathroom mirrors when we’re visiting someone’s home. And during work hours, it's basically our job. But getting to raid makeup artist and Shiseido Artistic Director Dick Page’s entire makeup kit (a.k.a the one he lugs across the globe and back to make up the faces of basically ever major fashion campaign and editorial you’ve laid your eyes on from the past and now) was so much better though.
We waxed poetic about Page’s career, technique and just general inspirational-ness when we interviewed him last fashion week, but this time around we have the goods, i.e. what he stockpiles at the drugstore, his no-fuss go-to routine for prepping skin for makeup, what he runs out to buy if he ever (fingers crossed) loses his kit, and who he’d love to have dinner with.
The hero products in his kit:
“[If you lose your kit] just break it down to the simplest things: something that can multitask as a cleanser and moisturizer—so some type of cream type thing. Vaseline is good for everything; good for lip gloss, good for shining the skin, glossing the eyebrows, shine on the lid—it’s good as a general moisturizer. Black pencil, brown pencil, red lipstick, brown lipstick, pink lipstick—you can mix them all together. And grab a concealer/compact type thing so you can break those colors down. You can actually do a full face with a few things. It’s hilarious that I’m carrying that gigantic trunk around.
"When I started doing makeup in New York, my kit wasn’t much bigger than a shoe box. I had a few little compact theatrical makeup things had foundations and things you could use for eyes and lips. Black pencil, black mascara, Vaseline, some moisturizer, a powder—super simple things. Then, in the early '90s, Fabien Baron, art director slash designer slash photographer said, ‘you need to bring more stuff with you, because it makes clients nervous.’ It's the same way for stylists; the client comes and wants to see racks on racks on racks. If they see a strap in the ad, it doesn’t matter, but they want to see options like 1,000 shoes, otherwise they get nervous. So makeup wise, for a client, I bring the whole kit, empty it all out, it’s all gorgeous looking, and then they’re like ‘ooooh.’”
If he could take one thing from his makeup bag:
“I would bring cream colors that I could mix. Black, white, red, blue, cream, because you could pretty much make anything out of those colors. I wouldn’t really miss mascara—I wouldn’t hate it. But if I was doing it for a photograph, I could just take a black cream and put it on the lashes. It’s a lot to do with how I work, I do a lot of stuff with just cream color."
Why he’s not into fancy application:
“I don’t like this whole super massage-y, preppy thing blah, blah, blah—just get on with it. The girl is having her face touched a thousand times a day, makeup is on, makeup is off, makeup is on, makeup is off, so just touch [the model] as little as possible.
"Clean [the face] with something that’s painless, moisturize with something that’s painless, you don’t need to make her a huge grease ball. Just keep it as simple as possible. I use the Shiseido eye and lip makeup remover, which you shake and it’s very gentle, very simple, very clean. I don’t usually use a toner, I use a moisturizer, a very lightweight one, and a bit of lip balm. That’s pretty much it. If [a model] comes with a full face, I just stick them in the shower.”
The drugstore products he stockpiles:
“I buy bits and pieces from everyone. Wet 'n Wild, Revlon...every drugstore item is viable and you can make it work, you can make anything work. For me I just need to make it work for a photograph, or a show. In the real world, women want something that’s going to last, that they can rely on not to wear off, that’s going to match their skin and stay, which we don’t have to think about. For real life, my advice for makeup is play around with drugstore stuff—buy the cheapie thing, and if you like it, then drop bank on the brand that you like, that you trust, that you’re happy to have in your purse, and that you can go to. But don’t blow a ton of money on something that might not become a part of your makeup wardrobe.”
How to wash your makeup brushes (and yes, you should probably go do it):
“For cleaning brushes I just use mild shampoo (that I use on my head) and warm water. Make sure they’re really well rinsed, press them and then dry in the air. I also carry Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner around with me (that always leaks though, I’ve gone through about 100 bottles, trying to find different containers that don’t leak, it always leaks). Cinema Secrets is a very good solvent, it dries very quickly and gets the crap out of the brush. If a brush is well-made and you take care of it, don’t bash it around too much, it will last.”
The key to looking good in photos:
“It depends on the light you’re in. If you’re going to be in natural light, you can get away with murder. If people are going to be flashing lights at you, then make your makeup more matte than you would like it to be in real life. My favorite product is from Shiseido’s men’s line, a cream called Anti-Shine Refresher Gel, it’s silicone-based mattifying lotion type thing–and this is one of the best ones. It’s dense, opaque and just flattens the skin really well, so you don’t flare in camera, and it doesn’t give you a bounce like powder does.”
Why he doesn’t believe in day-to-night makeup:
“The psychology of day to night is usually ‘get me out of work,’ so what do you do to your makeup that’s not what you do for work? You might take it off, because I know people who have to wear makeup for work and then they’re just like ‘fuck this’ and wash their face and comb their hair back. Like Isabella Rossellini when she famously said years ago that when Robertino, her son, was quite little—any time she went to put makeup on, he would start bothering her and say ‘mommy, you look ugly’ and it would really piss him off, because he knew that meant she was going to work. She doesn’t wear makeup when she’s at home. So that’s a reversal thing.
"It depends what kind of situation you’re in. If you have to have a presentable work face then your evening thing may be to take it off, or pop some kind of heavy, punk, look, whatever it is, something that takes you out of that world. I think it’s more undoing who you are in the daytime than having to change. Recently I was behind the Emirates flight attendants and they’re painted to perfection. I was thinking that I really wanted to see these girls in their jammies! They’re immaculate. What’s their evening look!? Their evening look is probably to wash it all off or, I don’t know, put extra face on.”
Who he’d like to eat dinner with (and maybe do their makeup):
“I think Helen Mirren would probably be really fun. I did her makeup for a Gap campaign maybe ten years ago. She’s really cool and I liked her so I gave her a bunch of makeup. She liked purple and red and black, and she was very tall. It was The Gap, so she was wearing a parka or something and wanted a bit more makeup on set. I’d love to to do makeup for Kristine Nielsen, who was amazing in the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I mostly like to work with people whose work I find interesting or who I’d be in good company with. Charlotte Rampling, I’ve never actually done her makeup even though we’ve done a few projects together. She’s always ready, so I’ve never had to do anything. I had a cool job with her and Rachel Zimmerman when we photographed them in the Louvre. They shut the museum down. We were there after midnight and they turned off all the security cameras, there were two security guards. And we photographed Charlotte and Rachel nude. They were just standing around naked in the Louvre, it was great. That was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever done. More often than not, the best part in my work is that I do stuff that other people would never get to do. Of course, Paris is an amazing city, but I mean, how genius is that?
“I’ve said this when I have assistants and when I’m training people, ‘you’d rather be involved in something amazing where your work isn’t featured, than be involved in something boring where you’re center stage, or something generic, because then who cares?’ The makeup I did to Rachel Zimmerman makes no difference to the pictures, but I had the experience of being there and being a part of those pictures. So that’s more important. Makeup is the room, makeup is the clothes, makeup is everything. That’s why sometimes my aunt thinks I’m kind of a bleak when I’m speaking about makeup but it’s not what’s in the bag, and it’s not even what I did, it’s where what I did goes afterward.”
If he wasn’t a makeup artist...
“If I wasn’t a makeup artist I’d be cooking for a living, I wouldn’t be making a very good salary—I wouldn’t be living here [in this apartment] for a start! But I don’t think I have the discipline to cook for a living, because that’s just something I like to do for myself, family and friends. I don’t have the hours and degree of focus. There’s a restaurant I used to go to in France, when I first started working in Paris in the ‘80s, so she’s probably dead by now, this old lady had this place and it was sort of brilliant. She only opened her restaurant at lunch time, she had one red wine and one white wine, and two or three things on the menu. She was fiercely anti-bourgeois, she wouldn’t let in people wearing suits or ties, she was very much about the students, and she would feed people with what she had the cost of.
"I laugh when I see menus that say no substitutions and I say, ‘well, of course there are no fucking substitutions! You’re eating what I make!’ Not in a grand way, but in a simple way. This is the food. You have a choice of two things to start with. You have two things you can choose from for your main course, and there’s some cheese afterwards. That’s it. There’s an impossible luxury of that.
"I haven’t been to Cuba since it opened to the West and last time I was there it was also for work, and at that time the government had licensed people to feed people in their homes. They could only have a certain number of chairs (I think it was 10 or below). So, you go to people’s houses and you obviously don’t get a choice in what you eat. They can only charge you a certain amount for the food. Because there isn’t enough food in Cuba in the first place. So now, I’m wondering if that’s going to be a restaurant culture in Cuba, which would be interesting.”